Cole Lindwall has high expectations for this season’s UW-Whitewater men’s tennis team. The team, which plays home matches indoors at Lake Geneva Country Club, has opened the season with a seven match win streak.
Lindwall had his first experience with tennis in seventh grade. He practiced at Cherokee Country Club and played in USTA tournaments around the midwest. At Monona Grove High School, Lindwall’s best season ended in the third round of the state tournament where he was the 11-seed. His love of the sport carried him into playing at the collegiate level.
“I really enjoyed the sport a lot and wanted to continue to play. I had the chance and the opportunity to play at Whitewater which was a really good school and one that I wanted to attend. Being able to play at the next level was always a dream of mine so I just decided to go for it and pursue it,” Lindwall said.
Similar to many other Warhawk athletes, Lindwall, a biology major, chose to come to UW-Whitewater for not just the high quality athletic teams but also for the high quality academics.
“I really liked the team and the coaching staff here. The academics here, we have a really good science program and a really good undergraduate research program. So it was the best of both worlds,” Lindwall said.
The importance of academics and athletics to Lindwall on their own present many challenges but like so many others Lindwall felt his biggest challenge was enduring the pandemic. He said he felt isolated during the peak of the pandemic due to the inability to practice as a team and being unable to see professors as often as usual.
Lindwall is no different than any other student, he too gives a lot of thought to his post academic life.
“I am still trying to figure out what my biggest goals are. I am trying to figure out what career I want to go into, something that is fulfilling and challenges me but also feels like something I can succeed at,” Lindwall said.
When tennis enters the picture Lindwall knows exactly what he is aiming for. He gives a lot of high praise to the team, despite being one of the top players in a program that has lost just one conference match in the last 16 seasons.
“We really want to win our conference championship, we haven’t been able to compete in our conference yet. We just switched over to the NJAC which is all New Jersey schools so we haven’t been able to play any of them yet,” Lindwall said.
The Warhawk men’s tennis team switched into the New Jersey Athletic Conference at the start of the 2019-20 season. The conference is divided into an east and west division. Whitewater is accompanied by UW-La Crosse, UW-Eau Claire and SUNY Oneonta (NY) in the west division. Due to the pandemic the team has not yet played SUNY Oneonta or any of the four east division teams which are all located in New Jersey.
“Our goals are to beat them and then make it to the NCAA tournament. Once we get there we think we have a really good team this year so we are looking to make a deep run in the tournament,” Lindwall said.
The Warhawks are well prepared to finally take on their new conference foes. John Zakowski is a transfer from Division I’s University of Denver, he played high school tennis at Green Bay Southwest where he won the WIAA State Singles title in 2019, and according to Lindwall is the team’s top player. Rory Calabria, a graduate student, is also a strong addition to the lineup.
“I think this is the best team we have had in a while… We have a senior class that is at its peak right now so we have a lot of players peaking right now at the right time. We feel like we have our best team and we can make a run in the NCAA tournament and do things at the national scale,” Lindwall said.
With the help of the strong lineup, Lindwall is looking forward to a strong season for the Warhawks men’s tennis team. He talked about how tennis is just a recreational activity for him to do on the side of his academics, but Lindwall is ready to give it his all.